Migraine headache is a recognised medical condition affecting about 1 in 10 people. Migraine is a chronic neurological disease characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a spasm of the blood vessels leading to the brain and a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms. The pain is severe and throbbing, usually on one side of the head and typically lasts 2 to 72 hours. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch. Up to one-third of people with migraine headaches report an aura: a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance which signals that the headache will soon occur.
Migraines can be experienced from as little as once or twice a year, or as often as two or three times a week. When you have a migraine, it may be so painful that you are not able to do your usual activities. Within the population, three times as many women (15 per cent) as men (5 per cent) suffer from migraine, and doctors believe that hormones play a large role. Diet, sleep, the menstrual cycle and other factors may also trigger migraines. There is no cure, but treatment includes medication and other therapies to reduce attacks.